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tv   U.S. Senate  CSPAN  October 28, 2015 10:00am-12:01pm EDT

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today's senate session. no legislative work has been announced. however, members are waiting for a bill approved by the house yesterday to temporarily extend highway funding. the president pro tempore: the senate will come to order. the chaplain, dr. barry black, will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. eternal god, who remembers the weary, lift your hand and we shall live. you are king forever, hearing the desires of the discouraged and encouraging them. today, lead our senators and may their labors honor you.
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use their talents to bring unity and concord to capitol hill. lord, make our senators instruments of your providence. give them a spirit of peace, even in the midst of life's storms. may they follow your example of sacrificial service, striving to commit themselves to justice and truth. place your truth in their minds, your love in their hearts, and your compassion on their lips. lord, make us all instruments of your will on earth, upholding us with your righteous right hand.
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we pray in your holy name. amen. the president pro tempore: pleae join me in reciting the pledge f allegiance to our flag. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: yesterday the senate voted overwhelmingly to pass another important piece of legislation for our country.
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by a vote of 74-21, the senate said "yes" to protecting the private i information of every american. the significant bill we passed would do so through the sharing of threat information from cyber attacks. it couldn't have passed without the hard work of senators from both sides of the aisle. i particularly want to thank senator mccain, senator ron johnson, senator tom carper who worked hard to move this bill forward. i appreciate in particular the outstanding work of our chairman, senator burr from north carolina, and our vice chair, senator feinstein from california. they worked together seamlessly to move this challenging bill forward. it's worth noting something the vice chair recently said. she said, "one of the things i've learned from two prior bills of this type is that you really -- if you really want to get a bill done, it's got to be
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bipartisan, particularly a bill that's technical and difficult and hard to put together. after watching the senate fail to act on cyber threat information-sharing for years, the new senate majority resolved to move forward instead." as our democratic colleague from california put it, "we stood shoulder to shoulder and the right things happened." yesterday's bipartisan vote was an important step forward for our country. it represents the new senate's latest notable accomplishment on behalf of the american people. we remain determined to keep pushing ahead, as congress continues to work to send a strong cybersecurity bill to the president's desk. now, on another matter, the house will soon consider the fiscal agreement. after the house acts, the senate will take the measure up.
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republicans approached the recent fiscal negotiations with several goals. number one, reject the tax increases proposed by democrats. number two, secure long-term savings via structural entitlement reforms. and, number three, protect our troops and strengthen national security. the agreement pending before the house meets those goals. it's not perfect. far from it. but here's what we know: it's offset with other cuts in savings. it would enact the most significant reform to social security since 1983, resulting in $168 billion in long-term savings. it would repeal obamacare, and
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it would provide greater certainty to our military planners to help ensure readiness and preparedness for our troops. at a time of diverse and challenging global threats, when we see isil consolidating gains in iraq and syria and russian aircraft flying over syria as the forces of assad march alongside iranian soldiers and his militias, the importance of this cannot be overstated. our all-volunteer force loyally goes into harm's way, and our commanders they will us that additional resources are required to ensure their safety and preparedness. i would urge my colleagues to consider these important issues as they continue to examine the agreement. we plan to consider it after the house acts.
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mr. reid: mr. president, our goals regarding the budget agreement was to make sure we got rid of sequestration. we did that for two years. and that we had a treatment in this legislation where defense, which is so important to our country, is treated no better or no worse than non-defense, and we accomplished that. we're months behind in the appropriations process because the republican leader decided he was going to push forward and not take care of the middle class. i was stunned -- well, i shouldn't say -- that's not appropriate. i was not surprised when the republican leader laid out his goals for this budget agreement. not a single word about the
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middle class. so i compliment the negotiators for coming up with something that is really good. it's a two-year deal. it allows more money to be spent for defense and non-defense. it doesn't affect the deficit in any way. so it's a good agreement, but before we start the backslapping and congratulations, let's make sure that we, first of all, pass the budget agreement -- and i think we will. i was happy to see the new speaker-to-be, came out for the agreement today. he complained about it yesterday. and when he was reminded it was the same pattern that he and senator murray came up with two years ago, i guess he changed his mind. and he said now he's in favor of this. and i think that's good that congressman ryan said that. mr. president, we then, after we
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passed the budget framework, by december 11 we have to make sure that the appropriators are able to move forward on legislation that takes into consideration the budget agreement we have. and i'm certain that that can be done, but it's not a given, based on all the finger-pointing by the republicans. this is a significant agreement. i repeat, we have -- we have dollar-for-dollar help for the middle as well as defense. there are no destructive riders in this. and when we work together, as we're supposed to do -- as the republican leader just mentioned -- on legislation, it works out well. now, i would suggest this: we had the house of representatives yesterday, after years of refusing to move forward on an important piece of
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legislation -- tha that is, to reestablish the import-export bank -- it only came about as a result of courageous republicans saying, we've had enough of this. this is one of the most important business-directed initiatives that we have here, and it's been held up for years in the house of representatives. and it was because of these courageous republicans who said, we've had enough of this, and they joined with democrats to do what is rarely done in the house of representatives -- they signed a discharge petition, getting more than 218 votes to say, we've had enough of this stalling; we would to move forward, and they did. and yesterday that passed by a vote of 318 -- or, 313, i'm sorry -- 313 votes. that's a tremendous, tremendous push. so i would hope over here the republican leader would move forward on this now. there are stories coming out every day of where american
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companies are moving their businesses overseas because the export-import bank is gone. it creates 160,000 people that work in this industry. it is important to our country. and right now businesses are moving out of the united states because this legislation never came forward. the bank had to close. it's basically closed right now. so i would hope -- we're not going to wait for some package deal with the highway bill. the highway bill should stand or fall on its own merits. and this legislation, if we have an opportunity to vote on it here -- so we're pleading with the republicans to allow us to have a vote on this. we have republicans who will vote with us. virtually every democrat will vote for it. and we should get this done this week. every day held is up a a ba is d day for the american business community. mr. president, i would ask the chair to announce the business
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for today. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved. under the previous order, the senate will be in a period of morning business until 12:00 noon with senators permitted to speak therein for up to ten minutes each. the assistant democratic leader. mr. durbin: mr. president, it is possible this week that we will pass a budget agreement for the fiscal year that we're currently in. that year started october 1 and runs, of course, until the end of september in the next calendar year. and if we do reach that agreement -- and i hope we do -- it's going to give us some opportunities. one opportunity it will give us is to spare ourselves the possibility of this congress failing to enact a new budget ceiling, to basically guarantee the full faith and credit of the united states of america. so we won't face that showdown. and also the possibility of a
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budget shutdown will be relieved by the passage of this budget agreement. those are good, positive things for this institution and for the economy of america. but there are specifics that also need to be noted because this budget agreement gives us a chance to invest in areas of our budget that, sadly, were going to be overlooked if we hadn't reached this agreement. this morning we had an extraordinary presentation by the national institutes of health. 20 senators came to hear the presentation about research at the national institutes of health and what it means to us. dr. francis collins is the director, an extraordinary man, a medical doctor who was given the task of mapping the human genome and did it, did it in an extraordinary way, creating new information, new opportunities. a doctor from the mayo clinic explained what that meant. it meant that we can now reach map the genome of individuals,
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their d.n.a., and we can then make decisions on the appropriate prescriptions for illnesses and diseases they fa face. and in doing that, we can be more effective, save lives. that's what medical research can mean, that each of us will not only have a basic biography in our medical record -- when we were born and some of the basic illnesses we faced -- but also our individual map of our d.n.a. which will instruct doctors when it comes to treatment of cancer, if it should strike us, or some other disease. it's an amazing leap forward. it's a leap forward that would not be possible without medical research. but yet in the past 12 years we've seen a downturn in investment in medical research of more than 20%. more than 20%. and it's meant that a lot of research has been discouraged -- a lot of researchers have been k'discouraged and have walked
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away. they don't make a lot of money -- many of them don't -- but they're unexpired to do things that make a difference. and if they don't think we're going to support them with our investment in medical research, they look at other places. so this morning we considered where we are. at this moment in time, the senate, under the leadership of senator blunt of of missouri on the appropriation subcommittee on health and human services, has provided basically a 7% increase in funding for the national institutes of health. that's a good thing. i'll say quickly that senator blunt cut a lot of other areas that i think in his bill need to have help. i hope that he will stand tall and tough when it comes to that 7% increase, as we approach this budget negotiation. the house conversely did not give such an increase to the n.i.h., but they increased the center for disease control,
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which is a companion sister agency that is important for medical research. so we have a chance to come together on a bipartisan basis and to come up with a number that gives 5% real growth in spending at both the national institutes of health and the centers for disease control. it will pay us back many times over. mr. president, most americans say what are we going to do about the cost of medicare? medicare is an important program to over 40 million americans, and the costs keep going up. two facts you should be aware of we learned this morning: $1 out of every $5 spent out of our medicare system, one out of every five is spent on alzheimer's and dementia. if we could have a means of early detection, prevention, treatment or cure, it would dramatically change the lives of millions of americans and millions of families, and it would dramatically reduce the cost to medicare and medicaid of
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these horrible diseases. one out of three dollars in medicare is spent for the treatment of people with diabetes. if we put the research into finding cures for diabetes and can alleviate the suffering associated with that disease, it not only will help lives across america but it will save us money in our important health care programs. investment in research, medical research by the united states of america has been the pillar for the world when it comes to looking to a better day for the people who live in each country. this brain initiative which was described to us this morning by the national institutes of health needs to be funded. it's not adequately funded now. we've dedicated some $350 million to alzheimer's and brain research. it sounds like a lot of money. it's about one-third of what the researchers need. they have that many
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opportunities waiting to be funded. will they all succeed? no, but that's the nature of research. but each one of them they find to be a good development to lead us -- good investment to lead us to the day of prevention, treatment and cure when it comes to alzheimer's. so, mr. president, i hope that we can come together on a bipartisan basis when it comes to this budget. in this area of medical research there's plenty of room for us to work together and there's already leadership shown on the other side of the aisle. we're going to try to move that forward on a bipartisan basis. when you meet with people across my state and i guess many other states, and you talk about political issues, there are a lot of folks with some very strongly held opinions on one side or the other. but when it comes to funding medical research, i have found that this is the kind of issue that opens the doors. people of all political stripes agree this is a good investment for the future of america.
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mr. president, i ask that the following remarks i'm about to make be placed at a separate point in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: mr. president, is it hasn't been a very good week or two for the university of phoenix. the university of phoenix is the largest not-for-profit university in the united states. university of phoenix students owe more in student debt than any other institution of higher education in america. they enrolled at this university, which is largely online but has some classroom experience. they sign up for higher tuition than they would at community colleges or most universities. and when they can't finish and drop out, they still have a debt. or when they finish, they may have a diploma but can't find a job. the university of phoenix, this private, for-profit company, receives nearly $3 billion a year in federal student aid
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funding. but the quality of education from this for-profit school is suspect. the for-profit college and university industry is the most heavily subsidized profit business in america. we see a lot of warning signs about the university of phoenix. we noted that they were targeting the military and veterans. paul rykoff with the iraq and afghanistan veterans of america said that the university of phoenix -- quote -- "is constantly reported as the single worst by far" when it comes to for-profit colleges taking advantage of veterans. well, it's caught up with them. the university of phoenix a few weeks ago was placed on probation by the department of defense, restricting the company from enrolling new service members who use the department's it tuition assistance or spousal programs. the department found violations
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by the company, the university of phoenix, after completing a review prompted by an investigative reporter from the investigative reporting center. the article that started this investigation exposed the university of phoenix's strategy to flaunt department of defense rules, including an executive order meant to protect our service members, men and women in uniform and their spouses, for aggressive and unfair recruiting by for-profit colleges. you see, if these for-profit colleges can sign up a member of the military or their spouse, they can bring in the money that's set aside in the g.i. bill for education and training to their benefit. and so they want to sign up as many members of the military and their families as they can. the university of phoenix avoided the rules set down by the department of defense and went instead sponsoring events at military bases.
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not just a few, but a lot. in one instance they paid $25,000 to sponsor a concert for military members and their families. $25,000 for a concert? the company gave away computers and wrapped the stage in a giant university of phoenix banner. they used official department of defense seals and logos on challenge coins given out to service members in order to show that they had some kind of close relationship with the military. in other instances, found by the center for investigative reporting, the university of phoenix sponsored resume workshops which essentially amounted to recruiting members of the military and their family to sign up for this for-profit college. according to the article, the company sponsored hundreds of events on military bases, rock concerts, super bowl parties, father-daughter dances, easter egg hunts, chocolate festivals, fashion shows and even brunch with santa.
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the university of phoenix spent $250,000 to sponsor events over the last three years at one place: fort campbell, kentucky. let's face it, these were recruitment events for the university of phoenix, and they were paid for by and large with taxpayer dollars. in the name of corporate sponsorship, the university of phoenix could gain direct access to military bases with a nod and a wink of service members. they told them they cared about the military. they also cared about the fact that they had potential students who would sign up and spend their g.i. bills through the university of phoenix. it paid off for them. the university of phoenix is the fourth-largest recipient of department of defense tuition assistance funds. in fy 2014, the university of phoenix received more than $20 million in these benefits. it's not surprising the company would be so concerned about the decision by the department of defense to put them on probation. it means they're going to lose
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access to millions of dollars from these military families. and it was reflected when their stock went down in value. since the department of defense took action against the company, the university of phoenix stock value has plummeted nearly 50%. in its decision, the department of defense cited concerns related to ongoing investigations of this same university of phoenix by the federal trade commission and the attorney general of the state of california. in fact, there are two ongoing investigations of the university of phoenix by the federal trade commission, one related to deceptive marketing and tiding and a -- and advertising and a second related to student and staff personal information. the attorney general of california has at least two, and two other states are also investigating the company. the united states securities and exchange commission and the department of education inspector general also have ongoing investigations at the university of phoenix. the department of defense is not
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alone. many agencies, federal and state, are investigating this major for-profit university. they do have some friends, though, and one of them is the "wall street journal." last week on the same day an editorial of similar tone appeared in the "wall street journal." a few of my colleagues in the senate sent a letter to the secretary of defense, ash carter, telling him lay off the university of phoenix. despite the fact that the department noted the violations were of such frequency and such scope that they were -- quote -- "disconcerting" my colleagues in the senate think the department of defense's decision to protect service members and to put this university under probation was -- quote -- "unfair." there's no question that the department of defense has a duty and a responsibility to protect members of the military and their families from exploitation. they've established rules under
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the voluntary military education program, and now my colleagues in the senate are writing letters to the department of defense saying look the other way. the letter they sent criticized the department for its concern over the university of phoenix's continued participation in voluntary military education programs in light of the ongoing investigation. i think it would be grossly irresponsible for the department of defense to back off of this protection of our military because of a letter from members of the senate. the broad and ongoing regulatory scrutiny of the university of phoenix gives the department of defense legitimate cause for concern when it comes to the company's future participation in the voluntary military education program. my colleagues in their letter said -- quote -- "the t.a. program is critical to our nation's service members' educational and career opportunities." i couldn't agree more, but that's exactly why the department of defense should
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ignore the demand of my senate colleagues and exactly why they should turn a blind eye -- should not turn a blind eye to the university of phoenix's violations. in order to provide quality educational options for service members and to ensure that taxpayer dollars are not being wasted, we must promote integrity in the program, and the highest priority should not be the profitability of a for-profit university like the university of phoenix. the highest priority is quality education and training for our members of the military. i want to thank the department of defense for taking this bold action and encourage them to remain steadfast in protecting students, military members, their families, and taxpayers when it comes to future decisions related to the university of phoenix's participation in the voluntary military education program. mr. president, i yield the floor
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the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: quorum call:
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quorum call:
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quorum call:# snoot quorum call:
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from north dakota. ms. heitkamp: i ask that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. heitkamp: thank you, mr. president. we're here on the floor today in celebration, in celebration of the american democracy that occasionally things can work and that we can overcome extremes in our country and actually pull together to do something for american manufacturers, to do something for american businesses, and to do the right thing. i know that my colleague from -- the senior senator from the r great state of washington is on a short time frame, so before i proceed with my remarks, i'd like to yield the floor to senator murray. mrs. murray: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from washington.
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mrs. murray: mr. president, i am delighted to be here with my colleagues, and i want to thank the senator from north dakota for her exhilaration. we all share that because of the vote last night in the house overwhelmingly in support of ex-im. i'm here today to reiterate my strong support for reauthorization of the export-import bank, and i do p a plawd the members of the house who -- applaud the members of the house who easily passed a reauthorization bill last night. you know, it's actually easy to see why the bill got so much support. it is good for american jobs. it is good for small businesses. and it reduces our national debt. and the fact that republican leadership has let this program go dark for so long, held hostage by political pandering, is outrageous. the longer ex-im is shuttered, the more it hurts american competitiveness. in my home state of washington, we're nearly 100 businesses, the majority of them, medium or small businesses, use the bank services last year to help sell their products overseas.
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and we are talking about everything from apples and airplane parts to beer and wine, to software and medical training supplies. in fact, i actually recently visited one of these small businesses, a brewery in seattle. in 2011 hilliards brewery started with three employees and were dedicated to making good beer. thanks to a loan from the ex-im bank hilliards got a loan and fast forward to 2015 they have dramatically increased their production and thrives today. the reality is people in other countries want american-made products. that is a great thing because these businesses support tens of thousands of jobs around the country and they keep our economy moving. the export-import bank is the right investment because it expands america's businesses access to emerging foreign markets, and that creates jobs right here at home.
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and you know what it costs taxpayers? not a single penny. in fact, the ex-im bank puts money back into our country. so here's the bottom line, republican leaders allowed partisan pandering to put the brakes on a program that creates jobs, it strengthens our small businesses, it helps our economy grow, and so i believe -- and i'm joining my colleagues today -- it's time to put this ideology aside. let's restart this proven program. it is critical the ex-im bank continues to receive the strong bipartisan support we've seen in the past as we work to reauthorize and build on its success. i'm prude to join my colleagues to -- i'm proud to join my colleagues to say let us get this done. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. ms. heitkamp: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from north dakota. ms. heitkamp: yesterday was a great day, and it was a great day not because of something that we've worked so long and hard on actually was advanced, and that we care about reopening
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the ex-im bank. but it was when a majority of people in the united states congress stood up, led by a republican from tennessee, representative fincher, and actually said we are not going to let hard right-wing politics get in the way of american jobs, of american manufacturing opportunity, and get in the way of moving our country forward. and so it is, it, i think, speaks volumes. i hope it becomes an opportunity to move other broad bipartisan pieces of legislation forward. the frustration that the american people have with the united states congress is that things that seem to be no brainers, things that seem to be so obvious in terms of the right kind of policy don't get done, don't get done here in the united states congress. and so i am elated, elated with what happened over in the house. but now the ball is back in our court. we've been waiting for a number
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of months to see house movement on this because of the discharge petition and because of this big vote, we now see house movement. the house has done their job. it is now time for us to do our job. and so i want to just point out a couple things about that vote. it ended up being over 70% of the house of representatives. think about that, in this time of hard partisan fighting, we have 70% of a body agreeing to an important public policy. and what also is significant about that vote is 127 republicans -- in fact, a majority of republicans in the house voted to support the ex-im bank and reauthorize it and open it up and open up this opportunity for american manufacturers. so there can be no debate. we've been saying, along with my colleague from washington, we've
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been saying all along that we believe that there was broad support in the house of representatives to do this. i think they hadn't had a test vote in the past. now we know we can say with great certainty not only is there a majority of support, there is a supermajority of support for the export-import bank. and so now it's our turn. now it's our job once again. a few short months ago i stood in this body working with my two great colleagues who have joined me on the floor to push back and say, look, if we believe in a trade agenda, we believe, as the three of us have voted, to support t.p.a. we're now evaluating and analyzing t.p.p. but what sense does it make to take one of the most significant and important trade tools like the ex-im bank, something that levels the playing field, something that creates huge opportunity for us to be competitive against a world
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where these kind of credit agencies are supported by every major economy, they're supported by every major government, and including some of the developing nations right now, what sense does it make to shut down or to restrict that tool? in what world does that make sense? and so we have been fighting this commonsense -- we've been making this commonsense argument and fighting against things that make absolutely no sense, and quite honestly in many ways seem almost idiotic. and so unfortunately there are casualties to this failure. there are casualties to this failure in america today. american jobs have been lost. american economic opportunity has been lost. and america's position as a leading manufacturer and exporter of quality goods has been challenged and challenged because we have sent the message that we're not open for business. we've sent the message that we no longer are going to engage
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with the rest of the world in terms of developing and supporting exports. that's the wrong message. i think the howts -- house yesterday sent a huge message to those foreign nationals and those countries who think that we were willing to basically abrogate, give the ground away to other companies from other countries. we sent the message loud and clear that that's not going to happen. it's not going to happen on our watch. but i wanted to rise today and make one final point before i ask my colleagues to join me. i want to make one final point, which is this bill is going to come over from the house of representatives. we have been having this discussion about what can we attach it to. we need to attach it to something because the house won't take it independent. isn't that what we've been hearing? that the house couldn't possibly move this without being on a so-called must-pass piece of
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legislation. that argument is way gone. it has been blown up by the vote yesterday in the house of representatives. so now that we no longer have that argument and we know we have a supermajority here, at least 64 -- we think probably likely 67 -- for the heitkamp bill, we need to move it this bill now. let's open up the ex-im bank. let's tell american small businesses that we're on their side. let's tell american manufacturers that we hear you. we hear that we can't put you in a challenging and competitive global economy and then weigh you down, weigh you down with 100 pounds of inactivity on the ex-im bank. and so we're going to be talking a lot about this in the next two, three weeks because it's not enough to wait for the next must-pass vehicle to come through. i jokingly tell my staff i'm going to introduce a bill called
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the vehicle and then i'll say here it is. but the bill right now is ready to go. we are ready to make this happen. and so, i'm very excited, very excited for the ex-im bank, but more excited for so many of our workers, so many of our small businesses who have struggled, who have wondered why can't washington listen to their concern. i think that question was answered yesterday. and so i'm very excited to call on my colleague from the great state of new hampshire to also talk about the importance of the ex-im bank in her state. mrs. shaheen: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from new hampshire. mrs. shaheen: mr. president, i'm delighted to join my colleagues on the floor today, nor heitkamp -- senator heitkamp, senator murray and senator cantwell. i thank them for their leadership in keeping the issue of reauthorizing the export-import bank front and center in this congress. we are here to celebrate what the house did yesterday in voting overwhelmingly with a bipartisan majority to
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reauthorize the ex-im bank. and, you know, the house did what many people have been predicting for months they would do if they could actually get this bill to the floor, and that is pass it with an overwhelming bipartisan majority, including a majority of house republicans. now, why are we so concerned about reauthorizing the ex-im bank? well, it's because, as senator heitkamp has said so well, exporting has become increasingly important throughout the country, especially in my home state of new hampshire. and for so many of our small businesses that are looking to stay competitive in this global economy, ex-im levels the playing field. and when american companies have a level playing field, they can compete and win. now, unfortunately, it's been a small ideological minority of members of congress in both the senate and the house that have kept this legislation from
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coming to the floor and have kept the ex-im bank shut down. the vote yesterday showed that it's time to change that. ex-im provides billions of dollars of lending to help american manufacturers reach foreign markets, and it's been four months now since the bank's charter is expired and we're already starting to see the consequences. some companies have discussed moving manufacturing from the united states, which means we will lose manufacturing jobs. and we're going to start seeing consequences for small businesses as they start losing out on new sales because they're operating at a disadvantage. businesses like boyle energy in new hampshire, which has gotten support from the ex-im bank. the bank has supported $314 million in export sales for new hampshire businesses since 2009.
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it's time now for the senate to take up this legislation, to pass it, to come together and get this done for our small businesses, for our economy, and for our jobs. i thank my colleagues. ms. heitcamp: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from north dakota. ms. heitcamp: i thank my great colleague from new hampshire who has done so much, both in her state, to raise awareness about the importance of the ex-im bank, but standing firm with senators -- the two great senators from washington, the senator from missouri, the senator from delaware to basically say, you can't just look at trade agreements and think that you've got every piece of important trade legislation passed. and so she's been a champion. but we all have to admit, none of us have been as diligent, none of us have been as eloquent, and none of us have
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been as tenacious as the great senator from the state of washington, who understands this issue so well and has been fighting this issue for a number of years here in the senate. so i yield the floor to the senator from washington. ms. cantwell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from washington. ms. cantwell: mr. president, i'd like to thank my colleagues for coming to the senate floor this morning to give an important message to our colleagues. that is, it is time now to take up the export-import bank issue and pass that legislation today. i want to thank my colleague from south dakota, who's had this legislation in the united states senate and has worked hard on the banking committee to make sure that this legislation is moving forward and has been there at every step in the process because, as a state that knows that exports matter, she knows that having a finance regime that allows banks to take advantage of the fact that they need credit insurance has been a good thing for the american economy. it's help us grow jobs in the united states of america, as we are selling exports to overseas
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markets. so she has been a stalwart, and my colleague from new hampshire, who just left the floor, senator shaheen, and i have visited her state and facilities and manufacturers involved in aerospace and other types of manufacturing who are trying to win in the international marketplace with their products by selling them overseas. but when we cancel a program that actually helps us pay down the deficit, because those individuals who get financing through a bank and a credit agency like the export-import bank, they actually have to pay a fee, that has actually helped us reduce the deficit of the it is money every year for helping us reduce the deficit. so my colleague, senator shaheen, has been a great advocate for reauthorization of the export-import bank. but as my colleagues have talked about, the dirty little secret is out in washington. that is, that you can't pass the ex-im bank reauthorization because there isn't enough support in the congress to do
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so. well, the answer is, that was a bunch of hooey promulgated by an some conservative think tanks who wanted to hold conservative republicans hostage, and then they tried to hold all of us hostage. that's right. they tried to hold all of us hostage, saying that we can't pass this. and now we know the united states house of representatives, with 313 votes, half of the republicans in the united states congress, voted for the reauthorization of the export-import bank. they joined now 67 people here who wanted to go to and move that legislation in the united states senate. so the majority of people in both the house and senate have supported the reauthorization of the export-import bank and probably have done so for more than a year, but we let it expire! and what happened? we let down the american economy because the end result has been a loss of jobs. i will just give you one
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example. one example of 850 jobs that went from u.s. companies over to these countries instead because, without the export-import bank, they lost deals that went to other places, because other countries also have credit agencies that help small and regional banks finance the sales of u.s.-made product that, as they're being sold to, say, a south african country or an asian country or someplace else, they can't find the financing, a lot of agricultural products, so they come to a bank in their community and say, help finance my sales overseas. in fact, senator murray and i met with a great -- my colleague from north dakota will like this -- a great microbrew manufacturer in ballard, washington, and they said, you know, we are trying to sell into the scandinavian market. they like our product, but they are a not big enough as a
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distributor to finance the sale of our product into those markets, so we either have to take that on our books ourselves or finance a way to take our company and leverage it with some capital to increase our market exports. so what did they do? they tried to minimize that. th," you know what that company would have to do? they would have to take that money and leverage it aside. but instead they went to a bank and asked them to finance the product. so, the bank says, well, you know, we like that idea. we like you. you're doing well. but we're a little afraid of you selling into that distribution market in europe. we want you to have some credit insurance. that's what the export-import bank does. it says to their banker in ballard, we will provide you a little credit insurance do you have to pay a fee thor that? yes, you have to pay a fee for
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that. what does it do? it helps pay down the federal deficit. who wins? we all win. i say they get to drink great beer that's made in the united states. my colleague from an ag state understands this. so everybody wins. then the ballard company gets to expand jobs. so that's what this is all about. so in this instance, we lost 850 jobs. so that -- ms. heitcamp: would the senator from washington yield? ms. cantwell: yes. ms. heitcamp: one of the issues we heard so often during this debate has been the private sector will step in, the private sector will take on this responsibility, that we don't need to have the export-import bank, that the private sector will fill the gap. in this case, was there any -- both cases that you ar cases thg about, was there any instance where the private sector stepped up an?
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ms. cantwell: that is the issue here. what people don't understand is that there are so many of these deals that basically there was a u.s. company who wanted to sell its ability to build bridges to a south african country, and yet because the export-import bank would allow for the credit agency arm to operate there, that south african country ended up -- that african country ended up basically going with a competitor, an asian competitor. okay? same thing here. when we don't finance these deals -- i know of a deal that g.e. lost to rolls royce. why? because the credit agency in europe could finance the deal, so they just bought a different product. so the issue isn't that somehow the private sector is going to step in here and basically help in a capital market. it is the same way the small business administration works.
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the small business administration has 8-a loans to help finance the sales that basically go through main street banking, but the small business administration provides a little certainty and predictability to the process so that we're not seeing huge losses and basically the small business administration has not seen large defaults, and neither has the export-import bank fl so these are tools that basically people try to say to us that we picked up somehow, the private sector will respond to this. well, in a developing market around the world, when u.s. manufacturers are traig to compete and build a -- are trying to compete and build a great product, all you're doing by killing the export-import bank is enabling some other manufacturer in europe or asia or south america to compete with our manufacturers on an uneven playing field. you are giving them an advantage that they don't have. so literally people on the other side of the aisle have shipped
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jobs overseas by saying that they don't want to support the export-import bank and have held it up for so many months so that we've lost jobs. so this is only one example. this is only one example. there are been tens of thousands of jobs lost since the export-import bank was -- failed to get the reauthorization. so now the question is, why are we going to wait one more day? now that the house has basically passed the bill, with a majority of republicans supporting it, why would we wait one more day to pass a key tool that is instrumental in supporting jobs in the united states of america? so i just hope my colleagues -- i appreciate so much my colleague from south dakota talking about this because, you know, being -- i don't know if it's we're ag states, or we see how much the economy mean globay
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means to our state. 95% of people consuming outside of our borders. if we want to increase our economic activity and creating jobs, we bettering selling to the 95% of the consumers outside the united states. if you want to do that first you have to build a great product or develop a great agricultural product. but then you have to be able to have the competitive tools to reach them from financing -- a banking system. so the funny thing is all these people on the other side who basically act like they're against the export-import bank because they think it's some sort of mysterious organization, those are the people who basically wanted to bail out wall street. they're the ones who are behind the big banks. they're the ones who are trying to basically disasemble all the banking reforms that we passed to protect the american
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consumers. so they are not for some sort of great, good government. they basically are just looking for a trophy to put on their mantle to say that, oh, we killed this government program, which i've said it is wrong-directed because it actually helps us create jobs in the united states of america, it helps u.s. manufacturers wipp in the unite-- manufacturers win ie united states of america and it helps us get our products to places they wouldn't already go, and it helps pay down the federal deficit. so it is a win-win situation for all of us. so what we have to do now is to get this reauthorized. we shouldn't wait another minute. and the notion that all my colleagues should take away from this is that a minority of people holding up voting on this has also been wrongheaded, to allow a minority to thwart what is such an essential tool has been a mistake. and what we need to do is right
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that mistake immediately by passing this legislation here in the i do nothe united states set the bank back operating, let our manufacturers and agricultural producers win again in the united states marketplace and help our economy grow with these important jobs that are related to exports. so again i thank my colleague for being down here on the senate floor, and we're not going to give up. we're going to be down here. that is because we're having all these budget discussions and people should remember that over the last 20 years, the export-import bank has generated $7 billion to the economy. not only does it help us grow jobs. it actually has helped us pay down the deficit. so i hear a lot of discussion about budget deals and transportation packages and things of that nature. so, to me, you want to put more revenue back into our coffers?
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then support the export-import bank moodily and you wil immedie recognizing a need to move forward. so i am not under the auspices that somehow all the people in the senate are going to support this legislation, it is going to move quuk quickly, because there will be some on the other side of the aisle who don't support moving forward. but i would say that number -- $7 billion over 20 years -- to me, i think it's worth a few procedural 60-vote thresholds to get that money and to give americans the certainty that this particular program will be rein-stated and that we will be back to letting hardworking americans who build a great product get the credit assurances they need to sell their products on a global basis and to win in the international marketplace.
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that's what america is all about. don't hold these people down. they are the people who created with great ingenuity and great sweat the great products that have made our country great. so let them export their products. don't make it harder for them just because you want to win a trophy from the heritage foundation? let's get back t to getting this bill reauthorized immediately. i thank the president and yeeferld. ms. heitcamp: thank you, mr. president. mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from north dakota. ms. heitcamp: we have been promised repeatedly since the end of june that we would be given an opportunity to reopen the ex-im bank, that we would be given the tools to get the ex-im bank back operating and providing credit to american manufacturers. if you had told me that the end
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of july would come and go without putting the bank back in business, i would have said, that won't happen. if you had told me that we would go through all of august and all of september without putting the bank back in business, i would not have thought that could happen. we are now at the end of october, and quite frankly, we're at the end of our patience, and so are american manufacturers and so are american workers. and so the time to deal with reopening the bank, the time to move this legislation is right now. the patience has run thin. the promises have never materialized in terms of moving this forward. we were told in the very early stages of this, back when we began to move this issue, we were told the only way we could possibly get it through the house of representatives was if it were put on a must-pass piece of legislation, something that,
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like the reauthorization of the surface transportation bill; you know, whether we're going to have highway bills or whether we're going to put it on the debt limit or whatever it is, because the house couldn't possibly move this legislation forward without any opportunity to put it on something else. that myth has disappeared. that theory is no longer available. that argument is no longer available to anyone in this chamber. and so the question becomes now that we know what the will of the united states congress is, reflecting the needs of the american people, the needs of the manufacturers in this country, now that we know what that will is, now we know what the vote count is, why can't we get this done? why can't we tell the american public that in the face of an overwhelming majority in support of a critical piece of infrastructure, trade infrastructure and legislation that we can't get it done, that
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we have to wait even more months to see the ex-im bank back in business? and so we will be back. we will continue to talk about this issue. we will continue to raise the concerns that we have about further delay and what that further delay is costing. but we also are extremely grateful for the work that was done in the house of representatives against great odds to move this forward, to send a message to american manufacturers that, yes, this place can function, we will listen to you and we are moving forward on getting you this critical tool to keep people once again employed in your shops, keep people once again working to export the great american products to the global economy. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. mr. cornyn: mr. president? p. the presiding officer: majority whip. mr. cornyn: mr. president, after years of hard work, the
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united states senate yesterday passed legislation that will help keep the personal information of the american people safer, whether that personal information is in the hands of your bank or your credit card holder or whomever. as we know the threat of cyber attacks is all too real, 21 million americans lost their personal information, sensitive background information at the office of personnel management just this last summer. 21 million. as a matter of fact, the suggestion has been made that many of those people were individuals who filed extensive questionnaires, responses to extensive questionnaires in order to obtain a security clearance. so you can imagine the sensitiveness of that information. that followed on a breach at the internal revenue service in which the data of more than 100,000 taxpayers was stolen.
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it is a felony to divulge individual income tax information of an american taxpayer. it's a felony. yet somehow, some way this cyber attack at the i.r.s. was able to get data on more than 100,000 taxpayers. the cybersecurity information sharing act is legislation that's been long overdue, and we're frankly behind the curve here. but this bill garnered wide bipartisan support here in the senate, and now we have the opportunity to work with our house colleagues who have, i believe, a couple of cybersecurity bills, and to try to reconcile those differences in a conference committee, which is typically the way we reconcile those differences and competing ideas. but suffice it to say that this legislation, once enacted into law and signed by the president,
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will help deter future cyber attacks and equip the public and private sector with the tools they need to be more nimble. specifically, what it will do is allow companies and individuals to share information with the government without concern about losing a competitive advantage. right now when you're attacked and you're a company, obviously it's not something you want to particularly brag about, but you do need to let the people whose information has been stolen know so they can protect themselves. but what there will be is more information sharing along with some legal protections for people who cooperate on a voluntary basis. as intrurs, the chairman of the -- as senator burr, the chairman of the intelligence committee said time and time again there is no compulsory about this system. nobody is forced to participate. but i think over the long run businesses and individuals will find it in their best interest
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to share this information and to receive information in a way that will help protect our personal data. the passage of the cybersecurity information sharing act was rightly a major priority for the united states senate, and like i said, i'm hopeful that along with our house colleagues we can get a bill to the president's desk for signature soon. but this is just one more example. the latest example really of the productivety of this new majority in congress that was elected just last november. we've worked hard without sacrificing our principles. we've worked hard to find common groundworking on a bipartisan basis to move legislation across the floor and get it enacted into law that serves the best interest of the american people. like the passage of a bill to help victims of human trafficking that passed 99-0 in the senate and now is the law of
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the land, the first major effort to help the victims of human trafficking we've undertaken here in 25 years. we've also passed out of the senate, and we're working on differences with the house, on the every child achieves act. this is chairman alexander of the health, education, labor and pensions committee points out, this is a fix to no child left behind. this legislation will devolve power from washington, d.c. back to parents and local communities so that they can have a greater say in their children's education. once again we've learned a lesson perhaps painfully that a one-size-fits-all solution does not work very well. we're a big, diverse country and a lot of communities are better equipped -- certainly more nimble and more flexible and more adaptive to changed circumstances than the federal government. and even though we had the best of intentions with no child left behind, we needed to make this
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necessary fix and, again, devolve power back from the federal government down to parents and local communities for their children's education while maintaining high standards at the same time. we've also passed a multiyear highway bill. i think it was more than 30 different temporary praches of our -- patches of our highway bill because of the inadequacy of the highway trust fund. this is the fund into which when you buy a gallon of gasoline, i think it's about 18 cents goes into the highway trust fund out of that gallon of gasoline. unfortunately, though, our demands have exceeded the amount of money in that fund. and for states like mine, we're a donor state, so we send a buck to washington, d.c., we get 92 cents back. and we, a friend of mine in the texas legislature called that federal money laundering, and i think he's right.
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but we've stepped up. the voters in texas last year actually by passing a supplemental appropriation for our highways and infrastructure out of our rainy day fund. and actually on november 7, we'll have another referendum in texas to try to fill that gap between what the federal government is doing and what the state government can and must do in order to meet our transportation needs. but passing a multiyear highway bill here in the senate has now prompted our house colleagues to in turn pass their own multiyear highway bill, and now we will perhaps later today pass another short extension to november 20 and then work those, reconcile those two differences and then get that to the president's desk. that's not particularly sexy work, but it's really important. and it's sort of what we're supposed to do here, which is perform the task of governing and helping to address the
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issues that confront everyday working american families. and then just last week the senate judiciary committee voted 15-5 to pass the first criminal justice reform on a broad before bipartisan basis we've done since the 1990's. i cosponsored that legislation and am proud to do so. a lot of what this bill contains particularly something called the correction tion act was based on a successful experiment in texas and other states where they realized that you can lock people up for committing crimes, but someday they're going to get out. and when they do, we have an interest in making sure, for those who are willing, for them to be better prepared for life on the outside. or otherwise they end up becoming what a young man in houston last week or so told me. he called himself a frequent flier in the criminal justice
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system. we know what that means. that means the turnstile just kept turning, and he would get out and go right back in because he was woefully unprepared for life on the outside. so whether it's education, whether it's dealing with mental illness issues, drug and alcohol issues, or just employable skills, it's in our interest to provide incentives to people in prison so that they're better prepared when they get out. i'm not suggesting that this is some sort of panacea and that all of a sudden our prisons will be emptied and people won't commit crimes anymore. that's not true. but for those who can be saved, for people who want a helping hand and are willing to take responsibility for their own rehabilitation, i think this legislation is really important. so while we still have a lot to do, i think we can take some satisfaction in the productivity
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we've had not withstanding the very challenging political environment and the polarization it seems like our politics in america today. this week members from both parties as well as the white house have been talking about legislation to deal with our budget and ensure our country meets its financial responsibilities. and indeed there's been announced deal negotiated by the leadership in the house and senate and the white house that the house of representatives will be voting on about 5:00 today. i think it's worth reminding everybody how we got to this point. starting in june, our colleagues from across the aisle started what they advertised as a filibuster summer. in other words, a strategy to block any and all of the appropriations bills that come across the senate floor. there are 12 of those appropriations bills. and if we were doing things the way we should be, we would take them up individually. the american people could read
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them and understand them. and we could debate them and hopefully improve them and then pass them into law to fund some of the basic functions of our government, like the defense department, for example. it's ironic that many of these appropriations bills sailed through the appropriations committee on a bipartisan basis. well, for the first time in six years the committee on appropriations voted out all 12 of those bills. and the reason they were able to do so is because under this new majority, we actually passed a budget which gave the top cap spending lines to the appropriations committee so they could do their job and to consider those spending bills to rearrange priorities, gain greater efficiency and economize on the spending. so even though many of our democratic friends voted for those bills in the
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appropriations committee, they came out here on the floor and they voted against them to create this huge cliff that we knew was -- is coming on november 3 and indeed on december 11. senate democrats carried this strategy of filibuster summer into the fall and continued to block appropriations bill, turning noncontroversial funding priorities like our nation's military and support for our veterans into partisan games. that's what created this so-called shutdown narrative and drama. it wasn't an accident. it was a premeditated plan by our democratic friends in the minority. so, as a result, congress was once again staring down several major deadlines with little time to waste. and i have to say that if your attitude in congress is i want
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100% of what i want or i'm not going to settle for anything, you're not going to get anything. it's just that simple. it's just a simple fact of life that the only kind of negotiated outcomes we have here are imperfect. they're flawed. but while this budget agreement isn't be perfect and it is flawed, it does contain several important priorities. first of all, the budget act of 2015 doesn't raise taxes. that's important to me and certainly important to my constituents. they think this administration has raised their taxes more than enough already. so this agreement lays the foundation to fund the government through 2017 without a tax increase. and importantly, the legislation repeals a section of bawrk. we'll have more to say about that in the coming weeks. but it repeals a major section of obamacare that required large
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employers to automatically enroll their employees in the obamacare health plans. that's a pretty big deal for a law that's been on the books since 2010. rolling back obamacare i believe is essential to helping the american people meet their basic needs, to get health care that they want at a price they can afford. not based on some sort of mandate from the federal government. and it's also necessary to the health of our nation' economy. -- nation's economy. and perhaps from my standpoint, and i suspect the presiding officer's standpoint, the single most important part of this legislation is it will fund our military and make sure that our military has the resources it needs to protect us here at home and our allies around the world. you know, as part of this artificial drama that was created over this deal, the president of the united states
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vetoed a national defense authorization act. this is the fundamental law by which congress says to our men and women in uniform, we're going to make sure you have the resources you need in order to do the job you volunteer to do. and oh, bay the way, we're also going to take care of our families. because in the military today, with an all-volunteer military, our families, our military families are vitally important too. but in an incrediblely cynical move, the president of the united states -- incrediblely cynical move, the president of the united states sri head to the defense authorization deal -- vetoed the defense authorization bill in order to gain leverage in the budget deal. it really is shameful. and for the commander in chief to hold our men and women in uniform hostage by doing something like that is just inexcusable. we all know we're living in a world marked by insecurity at
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every corner, from rampant instability in the middle east to a newly aggressive russia. in eastern europe and in the arctic, and a rising china that continues to -- mr. president, i'd ask unanimous consent for two more minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cornyn: in addition to instability in the middle east, an aggressive russia in eastern europe and in the arctic and a rising china that's trying to expand its own territory at the expense of our allies and friends in the pacific. and i'm plaid to seat united states navy -- and i'm glad to see the united states navy challenge the phony claims of china in the south china sea and jeopardize those important sea lanes that are so critical to security and to our commerce. so this deal, as flawed as it is, finally provides the military and our military families with the resources they need in order to do the
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incredibly important job that we ask them to do. and if you think about all the areas that the federal government is involved in, this is the number-one priority. there's no yellow pages, where you can look to outsource national security. it is the federal government's responsibility, and it's about time we provided our men and women in uniform with the resources they need in order to get the job done. and finally, i would say, in conclusion, this bill actually makes significant steps in reforming fiscally -- in a fiscally responsible manner our social security disability system. it will provide long-term savings from changes to social security and, in fact, this will represent the first bipartisan reform we've had since the early 1980's. so i look forward to continuing to discuss this legislation with our colleagues and finding a way to move forward as we face the big challenges still ahead of us here in the senate. mr. president, the only alternative to this negotiated
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deal would be a clean debt ceiling increase and a continuing resolution at current spending levels, which would have a devastating impact on our military and our national security. mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that after -- that morning business be extended until 8:00 p.m. with senators permitted to speak therein with the time equally divided in the usual form and that, further, all time during quorum calls be charged equally between both sides. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. mr. cornyn: thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. ms. klobuchar: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from minnesota. ms. klobuchar: mr. president, i rise to speak today in support of reauthorizing the ex-im bank. i know some of my colleagues were there earlier. i wanted to join them but i was at a hearing over in commerce. but i do not to thank senator cantwell and senator kirk for their leadership on this issue. i also want to thank my
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colleague colleagues, senator heitkamp, shaheen, mikulski, boxer, who were on the floor today and voicing their strong and continued support for the ex-im bank. yesterday the house voted 313-118 to reauthorize the export-import bank. that is a strong bipartisan vote that included a majority of republicans. it included seven of the eight members of the congressional delegation of the state of minnesota, including several republicans. the ex-im bank also has bipartisan support here in the senate, which has voted twice this year to reauthorize the ex-im bank. both times with more than 60 votes. now it is time for the senate to take up this bill and vote to reauthorize the ex-im bank with no further delay. the senate has been in the lead on thi thank -- year. we have showed the kind of bipartisan support that helped the house to get the numbers that they need and now we must simply pass the bill. the ex-im bank has been
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reauthorized 16 times in its 81-year history, every time with broad bipartisan majority. as yesterday's house vote and previous votes in the senate show, the ex-im bank still has the support of a broad bipartisan majority. since coming to the senate, mr. president, i've been working to boost america's ability to compete in the global economy. i serve on the president's export council. i believe that america needs to be a country that once again thinks, invents things and exports to the world. we, like our financial industry, we have the six biggest bank in the country out of minnesota, but we all know that we can't simply rely on the financial industry to keep the economy going. the economy has to be a bread-and-butter economy and that means making things and that means exports. when 95% of the world's customers live outside of our borders, there is literally a world of opportunity out there for u.s. businesses. u.s. exports have helped expand
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our economy over the past four years, reaching an all-time high of $2.3 trillion, an increase of 34% since 2009 after inflation. we know that there are about 85 credit export agencies in 60 other countries, including every exporting country in the world. our businesses are competing against these foreign businesses which are backed by their own countries' credit export programs and often receive other government subsidies. why would we want to make it harder for our own companies to compete in a world where all the other exporting nations have an export-type bank financing authority? when our companies are competing against each overseas companies for contracts, they need the ex-im bank. in 2014, the ex-im bank provided support for $27 billion worth of u.s. exports. this sounds like a lot but in the same year, china financed more than double that amount,
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$58 billion over $27 billion. and south korea and germany also provided more support for their exports. if we don't get this done, mr. president, china will eat our lunch. if we want a level playing field for our businesses, we need to have the united states ex-im bank open and running. but do you know what our companies find out right now? well, the charter has lapsed. when these u.s. companies or our foreign competitors go to the ex-im bank web site, do you know what they see right on the web site? i'll tell you. i went to the web site and saw it myself. it says this -- "due to a lapse in ex-im bank's authority as of july 1, 2015, the bank is unable to process applications or engage in new business or other prohibited activities." every one of our foreign competitors knows that this is up on our own u.s. web site. to me this is ba about jobs. as the ranking senator of the
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joint economic economy, i know that the in 2014, the ex-im bank provided $20.5 billion in financing. that supported 164,000 jobs. i know that there are hundreds of companies in minnesota -- the exact number is 170 -- that uses financing authority. the vast majority of them are small, small companies. these small business owners, like many small business owners all across the country, know that it is essential for their ability to export. they can't have a full-time bank person in their small companies. they can't have a full-time export on -- expert on trade with various countries, ca kazakstan, you name it, all across this world. they need this bank to get the financing. i visit all counties in my state every year, mr. president, and a lot. of tim -- a lot of time is spenl businesses. i heard from fastintel and
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business ingenuity, both from wynonna, so everywhere from fastenal to permack, an award-winning woman-run manufacturer in burnsville, i have found that minnesota businesses get help from ex-im bank. the time is here. we can't put it off any longer. our colleagues in the house, despite the fact this at the didn't even know if they had a speaker for a number of weeks, were able to pass this bill. now it's our turn. let's get this done. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. man
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from oklahoma. a senator: mr. president, it's just past the middle of football season in mang. mr. lankford: it's a sad thing for all of us who are football fans. this is a time when fans start thinking about the playoffs and other teams start thinking seriously about trying to get their coach fired. coach joe kennedy in bremerton, washington, not because the team has a losing record but because he has the audacity to kneel down and pray on the 50-yard line after the football fields are over. and thank god he gets a chance to coach there and for the safety of his players. gratitude to god is certainly not a crime in america. in fact, that is encouraged every year in the national prayer proclamation given by every president for decades and decades, including this one. coach joel kennedy is the varsity assistant coach and the j.v. head coach in bremerton, washington.
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he enjoys working with the guys and coaching football. he has an excellent employment record at the school and has been a great motivator of the guys on his team. since 2008 -- coach kennedy has the habit of walking out to the 50-yard line after the game is over, kneeling down to pray. after a few weeks that he started doing this, in 2008, a couple of the christian students on the team also asked if they could come and kneel down next to him which he has done. they're not required to pray. they're not required to be there at all. but those students have the freedom to be able to exercise their faith. so does coach kennedy. but for some reason, this season's been different. now the district has asked the coach not to pray after the ga games. instead, they want to provide him a private room where he can go and pray separately so no one will see him. i have a letter from the district where they said they gave him this accommodation, a private location within the school building athletic facility or press box could be made available to you for a brief religious exercise before and after games.
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so literally -- to literally go into another spot so that no one will see you pray seems to be the accommodation here. literally saying to him, you have the freedom to pray in a location that we choose. the district has a fear that if anyone sees the coach praying, they may think that the coach endorses or that the district endorses a particular faith. they wrote in a separate letter to the coach, these criteria here to say, as we go forward, these are the standards to apply. and i quote from the district -- "students are free to initiate and engage in religious activity, including prayer, so long as it does not interfere with the school or team activities. student religious activity must be entirely and genuinely student initiated and may not be suggested, encouraged or discouraged or supervised by district staff. second, if students engage in religious activity, school staff may not take any action likely to be perceived by a reasonable observer who is aware of the history and context of such activity as an endorsement of
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that activity. examples identified in the bored encase include kneeling or bowing of the head during the students' religious activity. you and all district staff are free to engage in religious activity, including prayer, so long as it does not interfere with job responsibilities. such activity must be physically separate from any student activity and students may not be allowed to join such activity. in order to avoid the perception of h endorsement discussed abov, such activities should be nondemonstrative" -- in other words, you can't see it outwardly visible as a religious activity -- if students are also engaged in religious conduct or it should not occur while students are engaging in such religious conduct. in other words, don't get near a student who are engaiblging in prayer and also bow your head. it's an odd thing here that the district would worry that their ax woul -- actions would be perd that they may have an official policy for christianity but they don't seem to have the same worry that their actions to try to eliminate anyone expressing
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their faith would be an official policy of atheism at the campus. since if they purged all displays of faith from any person, it would appear that no faith is the endorsed faith of the district. under this policy, if a teacher who is a christian sees another christian praying, they have to get away from them or at least walk past them as if they're disinterested. i don't think people understand how offensive that is to our faith. if i see a student praying, i want to stand by them, to hear their prayer, to be encouraged by their prayer. under this policy, if a christian student had been bullied at school and they wanted to sit by a christian teacher at lunch, when that student at lunch bowed their head to pray over their low-calorie lunch meal at their school lunch, the christian teacher would either have to walk away or they would have to ignore their prayer, further ostracizing the student. citizens don't lose their freedom or faith just because
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they work for a federal agency. people ought to display their faith has this coach did for seven years, and it's not been a problem for this coach to kneel down and pray at the end of the game. i'm concerned about why they are concerned about this display of faith. individuals can display their faith personally. it's their personal faith. it's not some endorsement by the district. a wick an teacher can wear a pent gram next last. a sikh teacher could wear a turban. all of those are outward displays of a certain faith. how can a school district say if you display your faith in a way that someone else can see it and figure out that you have faith, suddenly that's a violation of the establishment clause of the constitution? courts have ruled that and a half school setting, prayer cannot be mandatory in the school, compelled by the school, led by the school, while some have a problem with this interpretation, frankly i don't. i quite frankly think that teachers have multiple different faiths and multiple backgrounds,
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and i have the responsibility as a parent to train my child how to pray, consistent with our faith. that's not the responsibility that teacher at school to be able to teach them their faith. that's my job. but i do have a problem when an individual teacher is restrained from practicing their own faith or an individual student is restricted from that. it's entirely different when a district states that a coach may not quietly pray or allow students to voluntarily participate with a coach in prayer when they share the same faith. after a game is over and all the players are free to leave, that's air own free time. they could go to the locker room, they could talk to their parents, they could flirt with the cheerleaders on the sidelines, that's their own time. they can choose to do what they want to do, but they shouldn't be restricted from praying if they also choose to do that. the bremerton school district attorneys have chosen to apply the case of the towns ship of east brunswick to this particular case. in that case, the coaches couldn't lead a prayer or
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participate and all the players were required to be present before the game. this is a required team meeting in the borden school district of the township of east brunswick. this is completely different. this is after the game when no player is required, no one's expected to be there and those students and those coaches are on a brief period of respite after the game. for some reason, in this day and age, citizens, some citizens have become terrified of faith in america and prayer in america. they're frightened when people exercise their faith and live according to their sincerely held religious beliefs, and so they try to quash it, quiet it. it's astounding to me as a nation that was based on this basic principle of people being able to live their faith, not just to have it but to be able to live it. if a coach went to the 50-yard line after the game, sat down in a lawn chair and drank a coke, no one would have a problem.
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if a coach went to the 50-yard line after the game this friday night, sang michael jackson's "thriller" and did the dance moves, it would be a youtube sensation, but the district would have no problem with it. but if a coach goes to the 50-yard line, kneels down and sigh leaptly prays, somehow that's a different type of speech or action. it's not. it's speech. it's the freedom of faith. it's who we are as americans and our diversity in america. there's nothing different about that speech. establishment clause of the constitution is clear. congress shall make no law establishing -- respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. this is not the freedom to have a religion. this is the freedom to exercise it. it's very clear in the constitution. for some in this generation, they want to talk about freedom of worship. you can worship and you can go to a place of worship, you can worship anybody any way you want to if you go over there and do it, but they don't want people to actually come out and be able to live their faith publicly.
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we don't have freedom of worship in america. china has freedom of worship. we have the free exercise of religion where we can live our faith outside of our church buildings in our private lives, ion if you're a public individual. it is reasonable for this congress to speak out on this issue because it's a first amendment freedom. protecting one coach's right to pray protects every person's right to pray in the nation. so let me ask a question -- is the district going to engage in stopping coaches from kneeling down on the sideline during the fourth quarter in a last-second field goal attempt and prevent them from praying on the sidelines? that's a rich tradition in football. or how about this moment? last saturday, oklahoma state university, we had an incredible tragedy where a car careened through the homecoming parade, killing many and injuring many more. it was a horrible tragedy.
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it happened just hours before the game. the players and coaches at oklahoma state university walked out of the tunnel, and before the game started, when typically they would all gather and cheer together, they instead chose as players and coaches to kneel down on the sideline and to pray for the families that were affected just hours before in this incredible tragedy. this apparently offends some people, that people in a state setting would express their private faith. nothing was mandated about this. this was a group of players and coaches that their heart was grieved for what was happening in their city and among the oklahoma state family. this shouldn't be prohibited in america. this is who we are. now, i don't challenge the people in bremerton. these are all honorable people who want what's best for bremerton, washington, families.
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they all care about their kids there, both the superintendent and principal, the coaches, they all care about the kids there. this is a genuine misunderstanding of what our nation protects and what our nation stands for. article 6, clause 3 of the constitution says this -- no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification for any office or public trust under the united states. in our constitution, any individual that serves in any public trust in the united states doesn't have to set their faith aside nor have to take on any faith. in america, you could have a faith and live it or you could have no faith at all. that's the united states of america. in this chamber, every day, including today, the chaplain for the united states senate begins our session in prayer. in this chamber, the words "in god we trust" are written right
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above the main doors as you walk in. the same as it is in the house chamber above the speaker's chair. we're not a nation that tries to purge all faith. we're a nation that tries to live their faith. i would ask individuals that would choose to in this chamber right now to even pray with me as i close this statement out. father, i pray for coach kennedy and the leadership at bremerton, the superintendents and the principals, they have a difficult job, and i pray that you would bless them today, and i pray that you would encourage those students as they struggle with this basic religious freedom that we have as a nation, that there would be a unity there and a decision that would be made that would clearly stand on the side of freedom. for the coaches and teachers of all faiths that serve there and that serve across our nation, i pray that you would bless those coaches and teachers today. they do a difficult task. as they walk with students through difficult decisions, i pray that you would encourage them in their faith. thank you, jesus, for the way
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that you do sustain our nation and for the freedom that we have, and we ask your help in protecting it. in your name i pray, amen. with that, mr. president, i yield back. and i would suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. lankford: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from oklahoma. mr. lankford: i would like to ask to advice rate the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. lankford: i have seven unanimous consent requests for committees to meet during today's session of the senate. they have the approval of the majority and minority leaders.
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i ask unanimous consent these requests be agreed to and that these requests be printed in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. lankford: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from oklahoma. mr. lankford: i would note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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